SAINTS’ CEO Martin Semmens was quizzed if the pressure is now on Ralph Hasenhuttl to perform this season given that he got what he wanted in the transfer window, and responded: "Interesting question.”

The CEO and manager have both identified that the primary aim for the summer window just gone was to add depth to the squad, after injuries and absences caused a sharp decline in what was a table-topping Saints side.

So much so, that only five out of 22 games were won this side of 2021.

In particular, Hasenhuttl wanted two players in every position in order to promote competition, as well as just simply having enough bodies available when things go wrong that you don’t have to prematurely promote B team teenagers to fill a squad.

Read more

Barring injuries, he’s got that. Will Smallbone will add to Ibrahima Diallo in central midfield reserves while left-back Thierry Small will join the first team at some point this year. Elsewhere, they’ve already got and exhibited it (albeit central-defence will be light in Stephens’ absence).

Daily Echo: Saints are a man light in centre-back after Jack Stephens' injury at Man City (Pic: PA)Saints are a man light in centre-back after Jack Stephens' injury at Man City (Pic: PA)

So if Hasenhuttl is excused for any prior shortcomings due to not having a squad deep enough to deal with the crises that Premier League football brings, now that he has got it does that put the pressure on him?

“Interesting question,” Semmens said, speaking to the Total Saints Podcast, "yes, it is always on him.t from FA Cup run

"He would say that ultimately, everything sits with him. The responsibility from how we perform on match day is with him and he is the one in front of the media and standing there on the touchline taking responsibility. So whether we give him what he wants or whether we don't, he still feels that pressure.

"We talk about strengthening with two players for every position, not because we are hungry to spend money or to have more players, but it is just the right way to run a professional team.

"I think we have that and we are already seeing the benefits of that. The real trigger for me was away at Newport County, when we were 7-0 up and you were still seeing players like Kyle Walker-Peters sprinting back after losing the ball in the 89th minute. Seeing that commitment is so important to what we are trying to do here and that comes from competition for places and knowing that if you are not up to your best, you are not going to play.

Daily Echo: Kyle Walker-Peters has lost his right-back slot to Tino Livramento (Pic: Stuart Martin)Kyle Walker-Peters has lost his right-back slot to Tino Livramento (Pic: Stuart Martin)

"I think the players have bought into that model, that it can't just be ten or nine of us doing the job and one player scoring the goals, it has got to be all 26 of us.

"That responsibility is the key trigger and if Ralph gets that, he will always get results for us.

"He expects a lot from his players, he expects them to work hard and run and I think as everyone knows, he operates a system where eleven players have to function at the same time. If you keep taking quality players out of that who are injured and people coming in aren't yet ready, or are too young, or haven't spent enough time with the team, then the system breaks down and I think that's what happened at the end of last year.

"I think we have fixed that problem and our way will always be to buy and develop talent, and we are certainly very happy with every player we have brought in.

Daily Echo: Armando Broja's loan from Chelsea offers striking depth (Pic: Stuart Martin)Armando Broja's loan from Chelsea offers striking depth (Pic: Stuart Martin)

He continued: "I've been here a while now and every weekend, whether it be fans or with family or staff, we go 'oh, this is a big one.'

"Every game is a big one in the Premier League and it is getting increasingly difficult. Even yesterday, with the Newcastle announcement, every team has huge finances and amazing, world-class players and facilities.

"So every game is incredibly difficult now, but yes, our season will not be defined by not beating Man City or Liverpool once, it will be defined by making sure we beat the teams around us in that group.

"So yes," he added. "I think the next five to eight games will be very pivotal to see where we end up halfway through."